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How I Know We Didn't Kill Him {Revisited}

I am currently on maternity leave and using this time on the blog to share some guest posts and favorites from the archives. This post was originally published in September 2011.
“How is your family?” I asked when my husband got off the phone. 

“Good,” he said.  “They just called to check on us and tell me that they killed that Argentine guy.”

Maybe this is all couples, I can’t say, but it took me about five more full minutes of conversation before I said, “Did you just start this conversation by saying that they killed someone?”

As my time with Billy has progressed, I’ve developed a non-detectable filter.  Now,  my husband has impeccable English, but sometimes words come out in a “unique” way.  

My filter lets me hear what I know he meant, not what he actually said.  

For example, the reason I didn’t catch my in-laws apparent murder confession was that I immediately knew that he was saying his parents called to let him know someone in Guatemala murdered this Argentine folk singer.  It made sense.

I also know that “We were talking with Sarah’” means, “Sarah and I were talking.”  And “I heard that the other day” probably means about five years ago, before we even met.

And when Billy got tired of hanging wall art, but I had a few more picture frames... he handed me three nails and a hammer, saying, "Go kill yourself."  This one stumped me for a minute.  Until.... "knock yourself out" came to mind.  

Sometimes knowing a little bit of Spanish helps.  If I feel confused for a moment, I can translate it back to Spanish and realize the English was a direct translation.  Like “she has 5 years” isn’t a prison sentence... it’s a direct translation from Spanish of “she’s 5 years old.” 

The Filter.  Undetectable, but absolutely necessary.

What are you short cuts for cross-cultural communication?  

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3 comments

  1. This is one of my all time favorites as well:)

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  2. So, I am a native English speaker, but say "The other day..." for things that could have happened back in college. (I graduated in 2005.) It drives my husband crazy! I am not sure that is a cross cultural thing, maybe Billy and I just don't have a good sense of time passing?

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  3. I was thinking of you, Holly, when I chose this one to repost! :) And Heather, I totally agree about "the other day..." It's less about language and just makes me laugh as something else I need to be processing when a story is told!

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